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Gianluca Pica
 


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BLOG OF A TOUR GUIDE IN ROME

THE CASANATENSE LIBRARY IN ROME

22/07/2024 12:00

Gianluca Pica

Rome, #roma, #rome, #romeisus, #unaguidaturisticaroma, #atourguiderome, #biblioteca,

THE CASANATENSE LIBRARY IN ROME

The Casanatense Library is another Roman historic and appreciated cultural center...

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In the past I already had the opportunity, as you can read here, to explain to you how the cultural heritage of Rome is not only made up of large monuments or art galleries but also of a type of building that has become the symbol of culture itself: the library. And as a local tourguide, today, I will briefly describe to you one of the historic libraries of the Eternal City, located in a very central area of Rome, with many tourists who pass by it every day without even giving it a glance. I'm talking about the historic Casanatense Library.


Inaugurated in 1701 at the behest of Cardinal Girolamo Casanate. A first piece of information that makes us understand how, more often than not, money and a solid personal culture can do a lot. Located next to the enormous Basilica of Sant'Ignazio da Loyola (of which the frescoed vault is famous), the library developed thanks to the will of the powerful cardinal, in which it was written that a large donation (equal to 160,000 scudi), donated by the same, should be used to create a library, managed by the Dominican fathers of the nearby Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Originally the library had around 25,000 volumes, donated in full by the cardinal. But, obviously, over the years the collection has expanded considerably, to give this library a truly universal character. Texts of theology or religion are placed alongside opera librettos or texts on Roman law. Today the library has around 350,000 volumes, including 2,200 incunabula (15th and 16th century prints), not to mention 30,000 engravings. The lion's share of the Casanatense library is the large central hall, more than 60 meters long. Inside there are not only volumes and texts, but also real works of art. Like the two eighteenth-century globes, one terrestrial and one celestial, drawn in pen by Abbot Moroncelli three centuries ago. Or the precious brass armillary sphere , from 1708, which dominates the statue of Cardinal Casanate.


I am sure that coming to study here is a magnificent experience, since you can truly feel, deeply, the very meaning of the word study, of that curiosity that guides all of us in wanting to know and delve deeper into a fact, a theme, a historical period. The Casanatense Library is no exception in the slightest, and the numerous other centuries-old artifacts found here only add to the feeling I described above. Let us not forget, however, how this building is the result of the donation of a cardinal. And, as classic human pride dictates, it will be easy to notice the coat of arms of the cardinal family inside this library in Rome: a tower surmounted by a star with eight rays.

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